Villa must learn the hard way as Smith’s newcomers struggle to close out games
Adam Lanigan examines why they have dropped eight points from winning positions
Their desire to play fluid football had allowed them to score two fine goals through Anwar El Ghazi and John Mcginn. But it left them vulnerable when out of possession and so Burnley capitalised with headers from Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood.
Mcginn is feeling the frustration more than most. The all-action Scottish midfielder has scored in each of those three games, but none of his goals has gone on to deliver three points. “We have said it so many times before,” he admitted. “It is just managing the game and doing what other teams do even if it is not pretty. Just boot it away or
kick it as far high up in the stands as possible and regroup. We didn’t manage the game properly and got punished. We are inexperienced at this level a lot of us but we are learning the hard way.”
Villa’s natural way of working is to be on the front foot, which helped get them out of the Championship on the back of a club-record 10 successive wins.
That has allowed them to compete in every match on their return to the top flight and they have certainly not parked the bus anywhere. But all teams at this level carry a real attacking threat and Dean Smith’s side are not going to dominate every moment of every game. So it is a case of finding a way to gain defensive control when not dominating possession. Of Villa’s starting back five against Burnley, only central defender Team
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